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Peter, James and Jude, as uncanonical, and expresses doubts as to the
Revelation.

The Peshito Syriac, about A.D. 200, omits Second Peter, Jude, Second
and Third John and Revelation.

The Latin Version Itala, about the middle of the second century, omits
James and Second Peter.

The Version of Clemens, about A.D. 202, omits Second Peter, James,
Second and Third John and Philemon.

That of Cyprian of Carthage, about A.D. 250, omits Hebrews, Second
Peter, Second and Third John, and Jude.

Eusebius, the great church historian, about A.D. 340, disputes the
authenticity of James, and omits Jude, Second Peter, second and Third
John, and doubts the Revelation. He also gives a list of "Spurious
writings" at that time, a number of which are still extant. (It was
years after this before I saw The Apocryphal New Testament.)

Ambrose of Milan, late in the fourth century, rejects Hebrews, Second
and Third John, Jude, James, and Philemon.

Chrysostom, of Antioch, about A.D. 400, omits Second Peter, Jude,
Second and Third John, and Revelation.

Jerome, about A.D. 420, rejects Hebrews, doubts James and Jude, and
attributes Second and Third John to John, a Presbyter of Ephesus, and
not the Apostle John.

I have only cited the names of those who _did not_ accept the present
canon. That many of the Church Fathers, perhaps a majority of them,
did accept it is not questioned. I have cited these instances - and not
near all our author gives - to show that opinion on this subject was by
no means unanimous in this early day; nor was all the intelligence,
ability and character on one side. I quote it also to show that the
teachings of my church concerning those books, that there "was never
any doubt in the church" was not correct.

It must however be said in all fairness, according to our author, that
from about the close of the second or the beginning of the third
century, there was practical unanimity in the church as to the
authenticity of all the books in our present New Testament except these
seven: Hebrews, Jude, Second Peter, Second and Third John, James and
Revelation. Over these the controversy continued until the Roman
Hierarchy overshadowed the Church and suppressed all liberty of thought
or expression.

We now come to the detailed study of the origin, authorship, date and
character of the different books of the New Testament.

The first shock I got was learning that "The Gospel According to
Matthew," was not written in its present form by the Apostle of that
name. Nor is the author or date definitely known. The substance of a
long article on the subject is to the effect that Matthew the Apostle,
about A.D. 68, wrote an account of the doings and sayings of Jesus, in
the Syro-Chaldee language, the vernacular of Palestine at the time, for
the benefit of the Hebrew Christians. From this basis some later hand,
unknown, translated into Greek, and elaborated it into substantially
our present version. The earliest known Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldee
version was that used by the Ebionites, which materially differed from
our present Greek version; but which is the original and which the
recession has never been settled. The early Ebionite version did not
contain the first two chapters, giving the account of the miraculous
birth; but our author insists that these were cut off from the
original, rather than added on, tho nobody knows which.

Concerning the Gospel of Mark, he insists that it was also written as
was the original of Matthew, before the destruction of Jerusalem, but
after Matthew; that the material in it was learned from Peter, whose
companion Mark was (how does this comport with divine inspiration?) as
Mark was not an apostle and could not have known these facts at first
hand. He admits the last twelve verses to be spurious and added by a
later hand.

Concerning Luke he says that he derived his information from Paul
(another case of doubtful inspiration), admits the date and place he
wrote are unknown; admits the discrepancies between him and Matthew, in
regard to the circumstances of the miraculous birth and the genealogy
of Jesus - something I had never noticed before! - and undertakes to
reconcile them. When I turned to the records and read them in this new
light, his attempted reconciliation, to my mind, was an utter failure.
Like every attempted reconciliation I have ever read since, it was done
by "reading into the record," not only what was not there, but what was
wholly inconsistent with the record that is there. If any candid
reader will first read carefully the first two chapters of Matthew,
noting all the details, and then likewise the first two chapters of
Luke, he will see that they are wholly irreconcilable in their details.
They agree in but two points: That Jesus was miraculously begotten, and
born at Bethlehem. But in every detail of what went before and after,
they are wholly at variance.

My belief in divine and infallible inspiration was here materially
weakened. How could the Holy Spirit "inspire" in two different men,
writing upon the same subject, such varying and irreconcilable accounts
of the same event? Besides, our author had practically abandoned the
idea of inspiration by attributing Mark's knowledge of the life of
Jesus to Peter and Luke's to Paul. But, on the other hand, as I
learned a little later, in all the writings attributed to Paul, there
is not a single reference, even most remotely, to the miraculous birth
of Jesus; but on the other hand there is much evidence in his writings
to lead to the conclusion that he knew nothing about it. Then where
did Luke get this information?

Concerning the Gospel according to John, our author devotes forty-eight
pages to an effort to support its authorship in the Apostle John, and
to try to reconcile it with the other Gospels. Like the differences
between Matthew and Luke concerning the birth of Jesus, this was the
first knowledge I had that there were any discrepancies between them,
or that there was any doubt about its authorship. He quotes
elaborately from the Church Fathers in its favor, as well as from the
modern critics both for and against. He admits that chapter xxi is a
later addition to the book, but insists that John wrote it himself,
except the last two verses, which were "added by the church at
Ephesus." He also admits that v, 2, 3, and viii, 1-11, are both
spurious and added by a later and unknown hand.

When I had read it all I knew less about the authorship of the book
than when I began. But the discrepancies between it and the synoptics
loomed large and menacing. I will not go into details concerning
these. The reader can easily see them for himself. But on the
question of inspiration I was about at my wits' end. Here I was at the
very vital part of the Christian religion, as I had been taught it and
was trying to teach it to others. I have already told how I passed up
the matter of the inspiration of the Old Testament as being of little
importance under the Christian dispensation. And now every prop was
falling from under me in regard to the inspiration of the New. If the
very records of the life and teachings of the Christ himself, upon
which the whole fabric of Christianity rested, were now shown to be
discordant and irreconcilable in their contents, and some of them very
doubtful in their authorship; with it the whole doctrine of a divine
and infallible revelation would have to go.

I was dumfounded. Was it possible that all this upon which I had
staked my whole life, and had been preaching for years, was a mere
fiction? It seemed to be so, if the Bible was not divinely inspired, a
true revelation from God, and infallibly correct. But how could it
_all_ be true, when it told so many different and conflicting stories
about the same thing? Was not God the very essence of truth? Then how
could He miraculously reveal one thing to Matthew, another and entirely
different one to Luke, and still another and different one to John, all
about the same thing? And yet, that in many instances this was true, I
could no longer doubt. Even tho these discrepancies might not go to
the essence of Christianity as a system of religion; nor materially
affect its fundamental doctrines; yet they did go to the very
foundations upon which it was based, - a divine and infallible
revelation from heaven. Take this away and orthodox Christianity is
not left a leg to stand on; and I knew it.

But we will hurry on thru this subject. The authorship of the Acts of
the Apostles was attributed without serious question to Luke. All the
Epistles usually attributed to Paul are conceded to him by our author,
except that to the Hebrews, while some critics reject the Pauline
authorship of any of the Pastoral Epistles, - those to Timothy, Titus
and Philemon. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is admitted to
be unknown, and its date uncertain, tho it existed in the church quite
early.

The Epistle of James is admitted to be doubtful; and especially as to
which of several men of this name might have written it. It is
admitted that it could not have been written by the Apostle James, as
he was put to death at Jerusalem long before the epistle was known. As
has already been seen, it was rejected by many of the Fathers; and even
Martin Luther dubbed it "an epistle of straw."

First Peter is considered genuine, and written by the Apostle; but
Second Peter is admitted to have been unknown in the church before the
third century, and consequently spurious.

The First Epistle of John is believed by our author to have been
written by the same hand that wrote the Fourth Gospel, the Apostle
John. Second and Third John are admitted to be doubtful, probably
written by some other John, and by later tradition, because of the
identity of the names, attributed to the Apostle. Third John was
unknown in the church before the third century.

The Epistle of Jude is admitted to be a mystery. Nobody knows even who
Jude was, or what he was, or when the epistle was written. It was
known to exist early in the second century. It was generally rejected
by the early church, but somehow got into the canon.

The Book of Revelation is admitted to be the most mysterious book in
the whole Bible. By whom and when written are both unknown. Tradition
and its internal content is the only evidence that the Apostle John
wrote it, and this would apply to any other John as well. It is
evident that the same person did not write it and the Fourth Gospel.
It was unknown in the church until near the middle of the second
century; tho it bears internal evidence of having been written before
the fall of Jerusalem. Most of the early Church Fathers rejected it,
but it got into the canon; - and is therefore divinely inspired!

My study of "Harman's Introduction of the Study of the Holy Scriptures"
was here finished. I have elaborated somewhat on these studies for two
reasons: First, because the results that these studies produced in me,
that I shall presently sum up, were the results of the whole, rather
than any particular part of it, except those portions which I have
already specially noted. Second, I desire to arouse a similar spirit
of study and investigation in my readers; and I thus give this outline
of study in detail, as a sort of basis from or upon which to work.

I have already indicated in part my feelings at this time. I summed
the whole thing up briefly. The one great question around which it all
hinged was this: If the authorship of the books of the greater portion
of the Old Testament are wholly unknown, as well as the dates when they
were written, and the same is true of several of the books of the New
Testament, how are we to know these same books are divinely inspired,
the infallible truth, the word of God? This is a fair question and a
reasonable one.

I had set out in earnest and good faith to find the proofs of
inspiration, in which I had always believed, and only found them
wanting. Add to this the manifold discrepancies and direct
contradictions which I now began to discover running thru the whole
Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and I found them wholly
irreconcilable with any idea of divine revelation and infallible truth.

I here recalled a small book I had read some years before on
Inspiration, - the author I have forgotten, - but I remember the three
leading reasons for the inspiration of the Bible which he gave, and
which, with my limited knowledge at the time, seemed satisfactory.
These were: Tradition, Necessity and Success. The tradition of the
Jews as to the authenticity and inspiration of the books of the Old
Testament: it was argued, that whatever may at this time be the limits
of our knowledge concerning these books, the ancient Jewish Rabbis
_knew_ just what they were, and if they had not every one been the word
of God, these Rabbis would have known it, and they never would have
been in the canon. The same doctrine of tradition was applied to the
Church Fathers concerning the books of the New Testament. But I had
here learned that these Church Fathers were by no means agreed as to
these books. I began to see now that the same argument might be
applied with equal force to the Vedas, the Zend Avesta, or the Koran.

The argument from necessity was based upon the assumption that man in
his fallen and sinful state was by nature wholly unable to discover
anything about God, or the means of his redemption. Therefore a divine
revelation was necessary to meet man's needs in this case; and the
Bible meets this necessity. Therefore the Bible is a divine
revelation. But I here recalled that the only evidence we have of
man's original perfection and fall is in the Bible itself; and that
this line of argument must ultimately drive us back to the mere
_assumption_ of the facts upon which this supposed "divine necessity"
was based.

The argument based upon success was that Christ and Christianity were
not only the fulfillment of Old Testament promise and prophecy; but
that it never could have made the success in the world that it has _if
it had not been of divine origin, the result of divine revelation_. I
was prepared at this time to look with some favor on the argument drawn
from "promise and prophecy"; but if success was a true test I wondered
if the same argument would not apply with equal force to Buddhism, with
a third more followers than Christianity, or to Mohammedanism with half
as many in a much shorter time.

These arguments could satisfy me no longer, in the light of the new
facts I had learned. But I was not yet ready to give up religion and
Christianity. I began to look for some new basis of interpretation. I
asked myself the questions: May not Christianity be substantially true
after all? Is not man a sinner? And as such does he not need a
Savior? Does not Christianity meet this necessity? Is not the Bible
after all, tho of purely human origin as I now conceived, a valuable
book? May we not yet find much valuable truth in it, tho neither
inspired nor infallible? May not the "great plan of salvation" be true
after all? Is it not of vital importance to know? But if the Bible in
which we find it cannot be relied upon infallibly, _how_ are we to know?

In thus questioning myself I took into consideration my own personal
experiences, those emotional impressions and manifestation which I had
always been taught were the supernatural manifestations of the Holy
Spirit on my life and consciousness. I could not deny them, nor get
away from them. They were real. It was years later before I learned
to interpret them from the scientific standpoint of psychology. I
determined to take a new course - a course I had never taken before. I
had heretofore taken my religion on authority. This authority had now
failed. I determined to apply the test of _reason_, with a firm
conviction that in doing so God would guide me aright. "If any man
will do his will he shall know of the doctrine."

I may say just here that I have never yet met a person who undertook to
defend the "Christian System," or doctrine of sin and salvation, from
the standpoint _of its own intrinsic reasonableness_. The only manner
in which reason has been applied to its defence is, that it is _a
reasonable deduction_ from the _divine revelation_ upon which it is
based; which revelation _must be accepted_ as true without question or
equivocation. To doubt is to be damned. In fact, its
_unreasonableness_, from any natural human viewpoint, was quite freely
admitted. But it was argued that man in his fallen state was quite
incapable of perceiving, or understanding, any of the great mysteries
of God. "Great is the mystery of Godliness" was often quoted to me; as
well as, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
my ways," saith Jehovah. "For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your
thoughts." This was the court of last resort and must be accepted, and
to ask further questions was to blaspheme.

Perhaps it may be well to give here a quotation which I came across
years afterwards, as illustrating this process of reasoning from the
assumed hypothesis of a divine and infallible revelation, that _must be
taken_ as the starting point. It is from Dr. Albert Barnes, a
distinguished Presbyterian minister of Philadelphia, about the middle
of the last century. I quote him because of his high character and
representative position; and his dilemma is substantially the same with
practically all others with whom I have conversed on the subject. Here
is what he says:

"That the immortal mind should be allowed to jeopard its infinite
welfare, and that trifles should be allowed to draw it away from God
and virtue and heaven; that any should suffer forever, - lingering on in
hopeless despair and rolling amidst infinite torments, without the
possibility of alleviation and without end; that since God _can_ save
men, and _will_ save a part, He has not purposed to save _all_; that,
on the supposition that the atonement is ample, and that the blood of
Christ can cleanse from all and every sin, it is not in fact applied to
all; that, in a word, a God who claims to be worthy of the confidence
of the universe, and to be a being of infinite benevolence, should make
such a world as this, full of sinners and sufferers; and that, when an
atonement had been made, He did not save _all_ the race, and put an end
to sin and woe forever, - these, and kindred difficulties, meet the mind
when we think on this great subject; and they meet us when we endeavor
to urge our fellow-sinners to be reconciled to God, and to put
confidence in him. On this ground they hesitate. These are _real_,
not imaginary difficulties. They are probably felt by every mind that
has ever reflected on the subject; and they are _unexplained,
unmitigated, unremoved_. I confess, for one, that I feel them more
sensibly and powerfully the more I look at them, and the longer I live.
I do not understand these facts; and I make no advances towards
understanding them. I do not know that I have a ray of light on the
subject, which I had not when the subject first flashed across my soul.

"I have read, to some extent, what wise and good men have written; I
have looked at their theories and explanations; I have endeavored to
weigh their arguments; for my whole soul pants for light and relief on
these questions. But I get neither; and, in the distress and anguish
of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever, I see not one
ray to disclose to me the _reason_ why sin came into the world, why the
earth is strewed with the dying and the dead, and why man must suffer
to all eternity.

"I have never yet seen a particle of light thrown on these subjects
that has given a moment's ease to my tortured mind; but I confess, when
I look on a world of sinners and sufferers, upon death-beds and
graveyards, upon the world of woe, filled with hosts to suffer forever;
when I see my parents, my friends, my family, my people, my
fellow-citizens, - when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this
sin and danger; and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he
_does not_ do it, - I am struck dumb. It is all _dark, dark, dark_ to
my soul, and I cannot disguise it."

I think the conclusions Dr. Barnes reached are about the only
conclusions any honest, intelligent _man_ can reach, starting from his
hypothesis, that a certain book is a divine and infallible revelation
from God, which no one dare question, or go behind. But, as has been
seen, this foundation had now entirely slipped from under me. My only
course was to proceed just as tho no such book were known; or at least,
that it was completely shorn of all claim to being a divine revelation,
or infallible truth. I proposed to analyze every element that entered
into the whole Christian system, creation, sin, redemption, atonement,
salvation, immortality, heaven and hell, going back to original sources
so far as possible, without any preconceived hypothesis whatever, in
search of abstract truth. I felt that since God had left me without
any conclusive and indisputable proofs of the truth of those things
which I had always believed to be of the most supreme importance to
mankind for time and eternity, that this supreme, distinguishing
feature of man that lifts him above all known forms of creation could,
and should be, appealed to as the final authority and last test in all
things. And since reason was universally recognized as the court of
last resort in all other things outside of religion, why should it not
be applied to this also? I felt that if I thus honestly and sincerely
followed the last and only light I had, that God could not be just and
everlastingly damn me for some possible error in my conclusions. The
process I followed and the results I reached will be told in the next
chapter.




CHAPTER V

THE CRISIS

I went back to the beginning. God was certainly good. He was
all-wise, infinite. He must have known all things - -the end from the
beginning. If He thus knew all things He must have known the whole
destiny of man before He created him. He must have known that he would
yield to temptation and fall, and that all the direful consequences
would follow it that orthodoxy has pictured for centuries. I began to
wonder how God could be just and make a creature, whom He knew in
advance would do what Adam is alleged to have done, and knew in advance
the dreadful consequences that would follow it, not only to Adam
himself, but to all the unborn generations yet to people the world.
Especially was I perplexed to understand how God could be just and
visit all the consequences of Adam's sin on his entire posterity for
uncounted generations when they were and could be in no way responsible
for it and could not help it. Yet I believed God to be just. He could
not be God and be otherwise.

Since the whole purpose of religion, and Christianity in particular,
was to save mankind from hell hereafter, I first directed my inquiries
to the question of hell. Who made hell? and whence came the devil?
The Bible is silent as to their origin, except the vague reference in
the Book of Revelation to the war in heaven and the casting out of
Lucifer with a third part of the angels with him into the bottomless
pit so graphically portrayed by Milton in Paradise Lost. But this only
carried me back farther. Who created the angels, or were they
co-eternal with God? If they are co-eternal with God then there are
other eternal beings in the universe over whom God has little or no
control. If so God is not omnipotent. The devil is his rival in the
spiritual world and, according to the current doctrine, his equal in
omniscience and omnipresence, and a close and terrible antagonist in
the contest for omnipotence.

Take the other horn of the dilemma. Then angels and the devil are
created beings, creatures of God, and not eternal. Then God must have
made the devil. If He created him a holy angel, yea, an archangel, as
is claimed, God certainly knew in advance that this archangel would
sometime lead a rebellion in heaven and lead one-third of the angels
into the conspiracy! Would an all-wise, a just and good God create
such beings, knowing in advance what they would do and what the
consequences of it would be? This forced God to create a hell in which
to put and punish these rebellious angels whom He knew before He
created them would rebel against him and thus have to be punished. If
God needed angels to glorify him was it not just as easy to create good


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